The Chicago Bulls Summer League team began their season on Friday with a 100-99 win over the Dallas Mavericks in overtime. The Bulls were able to rally from a double-digit deficit and force overtime thanks to a strong performance from Marko Simonivic.
The second-year big man posted 27 points, 13 rebounds, and 3 blocks in the win for the Bulls. Chicago’s first-round pick Dalen Terry chipped in 9 points, 6 assists, and 5 rebounds in his debut.
It was a strong start for the Bulls in their first of four summer league games. Chicago also has to be happy with what they saw from Terry and Simonivic in the opening game as they are two of the team’s most enticing prospects.
Rookie Pushing Starter
Terry also impressed in his first summer league practice he was named “most competitive” by his teammates. Terry was very competitive in practice with Patrick Williams with the two even exchanging trash talk.
Terry clearly impressed Williams though as he was the one that nominated the rookie for being the most competitive. Seeing these two compete against each other so hard early on has to be an encouraging sign for the Bulls.
Chicago Sun-Times writer Joe Cowley wrote an article on Saturday about how important Williams’s development is for the Bulls this season.
His growth this summer and into fall camp in the mental-assertiveness department will be key.
If Williams remains at that nine-point, four-rebound level, the Bulls can pencil in reservations for the No. 5 or 6 seed in the Eastern Conference and surely will be headed for a one-and-done against the big four.
But if he can put up 15 points and grab 7.5 rebounds per game a la Raptors Rookie of the Year Scottie Barnes and develop into an elite wing defender, the Bulls have a chance to host a first-round playoff series rather than pack lightly for one.
The Bulls need Williams to be more aggressive for sure and he’s shown flashes at times. He scored 35 points in the regular-season finale against the Timberwolves and he scored 20 and 23 points in games four and five against the Bucks.
Cowley makes the case that Terry pushing Williams for minutes could be exactly what the former number four overall pick needs.
Terry is in no danger of stealing Williams’ starting spot just yet, but he is a threat to grab minutes. They are built differently, but the Bulls insisted on draft night that the Arizona product would be groomed to be a wing defender with the hope that he can become an irritant who can guard a Jaylen Brown or a Jimmy Butler, the types of players Williams has been assigned to when healthy.
If Terry can find a way to contribute for the Bulls as a rookie and push Williams at the same time then he could be a home run pick for the team.
The Bulls are hopeful that Williams can take a step forward in his progression this season as it would be huge for the team. If Williams can contribute at a higher rate and the Bulls get regular contributions from new additions Terry, Goran Dragic, and Andre Drummond then the team should be better this season.
Another big factor for the Bulls will be health. If Lonzo Ball can come back healthy from a knee injury that he’s had trouble rehabbing then Chicago should be able to return from the team they were in the first half of last season.
The Bulls were 27-13 and in first place in the Eastern Conference before Ball was injured. Zach LaVine also had successful surgery on the injured kneed that hampered him during the season.
If all of these things can come together for the Bulls then the team will have a strong season. But there are a lot of pieces that have to fall into place and only time will tell.